Back to Work

Well, the worst thing about winter break is that it ends.  Sadly, tomorrow it’s back to the grind.  Three weeks off was great and even though I didn’t get to travel (yes, I tamed my inner travel bug) I still enjoyed it immensely.  I got some much needed rest but I am sure that no matter how much rest I got, my morning will look something like this…

I’m not even kidding either.

I’m sure my student’s will have forgotten everything they’ve learned and they will be tired too so I won’t be alone.

The good thing about staying local was that I was able to see my Al Jazeera news report, rest and not spend a lot of money.  Returning back to work means spring break is not too far off and neither is traveling, so I’m looking forward to the second half of this school year.

Today I met up with some of the ladies from The Brothas and Sistas of Qatar facebook group and had high tea at the Shangri-La again.  It was a nice way to end the winter break.

I’m just happy I wasn’t in Philly where they were enduring harsh winter weather.  I don’t miss it, sorry friends.

A Review of The Spa at the Warwick Doha

Today was my first time using the Spa at the Warwick hotel. I usually start with a 5 * rating and then delete and add stars according to my experience.

When I entered the hotel, I was instantly overtaken by the smell of smoke. I felt like I was in a casino in America before they added smoke rooms. For someone with Asthma, I automatically made up my mind that I would never stay here. Minus 1*. (not the spa’s fault but still a part of the hotel)

When I arrived to the 7th floor which is where the spa is located, there was no-one there to greet me. I had a 5:00 appointment and I was on-time and there was no-one there. So I took a seat and waited. Five minutes later, a gentlemen arrived and walked passed me on his mobile phone and just nodded. Less than a minute later he walked back passed again and I asked him if anybody was working. He told me that he was calling someone. (He must have been someone in charge) Someone did come about a minute later, handed me paperwork to fill out and confirmed my appointment. Seven minutes later I was in room. This is unacceptable- Minus 2 **

My masseuse was very nice. She said she was from Thailand and apologized that she did not check back at the desk at 5 to see if her appointment had arrived. (valid but why is there no hostess or receptionist on duty).

After being taken to my room, she (my masseuse) had to set up because she was late. So while I tried to undress she was busy lighting candles and had to go and get me disposable underwear because there was none in the cabinet. Minus 1* star

My massage was nice– 90 minute full body massage. She adjusted the temperature when I was feeling cold. I asked her to write her name down so I would remember it. Plus 1* star for the nice massage.

The price was great and I used the entertainer app, so I get one free massage to use another day. Plus 1*.

After the massage I went back to the front to pay and complete a survey. Several male customers were there talking too loud for a spa but whatever. My masseuse neglected to write her name down for me for which she probably forgot. No stars taken away for that.

All together 3 stars for this spa. I will be back for my free massage but I wasn’t impressed by the service or the smoky hotel. Do better Warwick.

**My review is based on my experience and mine alone**

 

Zaffran Cafe- an Indian Gem at the Center

With only a few days left of winter break, I decided to call one of my new coworkers and invite her to lunch. Omaimah is from northern India so when she asked me where I wanted to go, I told her I wanted to experience some real Indian food, what else, duhh. lol

She volunteered to pick me up and treat (she said because this is what Indians do), even though I invited her.  ♥  She took me to an area in Doha that I was very familiar, The Center, where the Megamart store is.  The restaurant, Zaffran Cafe was right on the other side of the market and after all the times I’ve shopped at Megamart, I’ve never seen it.  I have to start paying attention more.  We walked in a door and there were several small stores in this area of The center that was unfamiliar to me.  As soon as you walk in, the restaurant is on your left.

I looked at the menu but asked her to order me something good.  She knows I’m vegan so she tried to be very strategic with what she ordered.  She ordered several items for herself and for me.  She said, she wanted me to taste everything so she ordered one of almost everything and I could take the rest home.

The first thing to arrive was Pani Puri also referred to as golgappa- small fried puff-pastry bowls filled with spiced mashed potato.  They are serviced with spiced water and tamarind juice which you pour into the bowls and then eat them whole.  They are said to cleanse the palette.

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Then the other items were brought over.  There was so much food on our table, we must have looked like two greedy ladies and we didn’t care.

Aloo Paratha and Vegetable Paratha with Indian Pickles (achaar)- Traditional Indian bread made with minced fresh vegetables or potatoes.  The Indian Pickles are there for dipping and for some added spice.  (Also served with yogurt but I didn’t eat that)

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Pav Bhaji- spiced mixture of mashed vegetables or potatoes in a thick gravy served with toasted white bread rolls for dipping and topped with raw chopped onions and a squeeze of lemon.  20180103_121338.jpg

Chola bhatura- a combo of chana masala (spicy white chickpeas), and a fried bread made from soft wheat.  The bread was so puffy when it first came out, then it started to deflate like a balloon.  You use the bread to sop up the masala, then eat a sliver of onion behind it.

Samosa-  wheat flour or maida flour shell stuffed with some filling, generally a mixture of mashed boiled potato, onions, green peas, spices and green chili. The entire pastry is then deep-fried to a golden brown color, in vegetable oil, (speak to the cooks to find out if this is cooked in oil or ghee) served with tamarind and mint dipping sauces.  I was familiar with samosas from childhood.  A friend of my mother’s used to make these; she was from Africa.  So these were sort of nostalgic for me.  Don’t eat that green chili pepper, she warned me.

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Last was dessert, that I didn’t catch the name of.  Omaimah got me this little pastry with pistachios and silver on it.  She told me not to try to peel the silver off just eat it; this dessert is made with an edible silver leaf, not foil.  Okay!

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My take on the food: Everything was tasteful.  I had heard that Indian food can be very spicy but I think they looked at me like –she’s American, better go light on the spices.  The Pav Bhaji was my favorite, so flavorful and delicious.  I had a difficult time sopping up the vegetables and gravy on my bread, so Omaimah taught me how to kind of fold the bread around the mixture.  I thoroughly enjoyed eating with my hands and she even encouraged it.

My take on the service: Service was excellent.  They brought everything out to us rather quickly and they all smiled.  The food was hot and I had no problems with anything.

My take on the ambience: Honestly it’s a hidden gem.  It’s small but clean, not glamorous but it’s not a big time restaurant either.  You can eat in or take out so it’s set up for that. I kind of like the gully places; they tend to have the best food.  Next time, maybe I’ll read this wall while I stuff my face.

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My take on the price: I overheard the manager quote a price to my friend of a little over 100 Riyals.  That’s about $30 USD and that was amazing for all the food we had plus tea and water for two people.  (Note: Omaimah is a regular there and probably gets a good price though)

Would I recommend this place: HELL YEAH! I bought back all my leftovers and couldn’t wait for Darryl to taste everything.  And since it is so close to home, this may be my new little spot when I’m craving Indian food.

 

Your Perceptions Could be Wrong

With only a few days left of winter break, I decided to call one of my new coworkers and invite her to lunch.  It is amazing to me how ignorant we show ourselves to be before we get to know people.  Let me first give you some background: I think that many Indian women are beautiful, have long dark hair, brown coffee skin, and of medium build.  There are many natives from India here in Qatar but the ones I’ve noticed, bobble their heads when speaking, have a recognizable body odor, and are mostly low income.  This was my impression until I met Omaimah.  Omaimah is from the northern part of India and when I first met her, Indian did not come to mind.  When she told me she was from India and I responded with, “Really, I would have never suspected”, she said, “Why, is it because I don’t bobble my head?”  I was so embarrassed, as I should have been.  Which leaves me to question: How often do we judge people or a group of  people before we get to know them?

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This is Omaimah, fair skinned, big eyes, long dark hair (got that right), smells nice, does not bobble her head, is pretty well off and a teacher from India.  She’s beautiful and thoughtful and she has taught me, and she doesn’t even know it, not to judge a group of people before I get to know at least one of them.  Everyone from one country do not all fit in the same box.  I want to apologize to the universe and say thank you Omaimah.

Has something similar ever happened to you?

Read my next post to find out how lunch went, with a real Indian, at a real Indian restaurant…

365 Day Recap

It is New Years day here in Qatar and I am not at work. Hallelujah!  -My New Year’s Eve was kind of boring (no fireworks here, and stayed home instead of partying) but after the amazing year I’ve had, I’ll take it!  If you came to my blog expecting this…

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Sorry to disappoint you.  Sure, there are things I plan on doing more and even some I plan to do less but believe me I’ve set and broken enough resolutions in my life.  I like to set goals whenever I feel like it, not just at the start of a new year.  But that is me, so if you have set New Year resolutions for yourself, I sincerely wish you success.

When a new year starts, I like to reflect.  I like to reflect on the things I did in the last 365 days.  It is a way for me to stay humble, grateful and thankful.  So here is my 365 day recap…

I started 2017 in bed because I had to work the next day for the first time, that stunk but that was no indication of how my year would be, in fact quite the opposite.

I visited 7 countries, 6 of them for the first time, 1 of them from my original bucket list (now called my Places to Visit List).  

My husband moved to Qatar with me and I moved from my big villa to a nice apartment.

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Us at Banana Island

I had some of the most amazing food ever and even tried really hard to be a vegan when I wasn’t eating seafood. 

Really what would this post be without some food pics!

I found fun ways to enjoy my time and took in some sights around Doha.

I flew first class for the first time, twice.

I watched my girlfriend marry her sweet heart in Vegas and we had a blast.

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I ended this year with several interviews and a headline on Al Jazeera, focusing on my superpower- alopecia!  Something tells me this is just the beginning…

I’ve made new friends and lost some people along the way.  Everybody I knew last year, is still alive and that is a blessing in itself.  This is only a portion of my last 365 days. 

The next 365 will be even better!  I LOVE MY LIFE!  I am on a journey and the path looks amazing! 

What were some of your highlights from 2017?

My Imperfection is my Super Power: The Crown

“Step outside of the box and others will follow” by Kennesha Bell and Amani Khlifa

I told my son I believe that it is important to give and serve but I didn’t think that I was doing enough to help other people.  Yes, I am teacher and I help little people every day but that is my career.  Then my partner, Nàzma (the very talented Henna Artist from Sri Lanka), called me to do an interview with her.  She wants to get her free services out there and serve, so that more people are aware and can use her.  For some reason, she has not gotten any call backs for women with cancer or alopecia wanting henna crowns for their bald heads here in Qatar.  She has contacted the cancer society here and still no responses.  I have my own opinions about that.  I think people here are ashamed.  I told her that if she was in America, she would have too many clients to handle.

I was first interviewed by a young Northwestern University student named Noof.  I met her at a local mall, where she asked me a few questions about how Nàzma and I hooked up and my perception on the culture here and its response to hair loss.  She then wrote a paper as part of her assignment for school.

You can read the feature story here:

feature story alopecia and Henna 

After that initial interview we just called ourselves partners.  Each time Nàzma called, I answered.  She was contacted by a Qatar University college student, a journalist, Amani Ben Khlifa (famous from AJ+ as well).  Amani did a documentary on us and presented it to her school.   I was so bummed that I couldn’t make it to the presentation because I had prior engagements but I was honored to have been a part of it.

My featured Image above was from the front of the brochure she created and the documentary is here:

 

One of our proudest achievements Nàzma and I did, was the interview with Al Jazeera.  Laura Burdon-Manley and her videographer came to my flat and recorded a whole news story on November 14, 2017.

This morning Nàzma sent me this Whatsapp message, “Kennesha we will be on aljazeera…I don’t know when, everyone messaging me that they saw me…”  No-one told us when it would be airing and apparently it had already aired.  We searched and searched through the tv channels and online.  Nàzma was able to find it by scrolling back through the news on Al Jazeera English Live and youtube.  And then while sitting in front of the television, there it was:  My big bald, beautiful head.  They aired the Headline again and I was so proud of myself and my partner.  Then Laura, who was in London, sent us the clip and here it is:

 

So now I’m thinking, I am helping people, through my story, at least I hope that I am.  I would love to be the face of alopecia and inspire other women, who like me, are bald and beautiful.  It has been an internal journey to accept me, but I hope that my external journey is just beginning, the journey to help others to accept themselves.

I am using my imperfection as my Superpower! What is your SuperPower?

Special thank you to Nàzmä Màzhar- a very special and talented person, Noof Al-Ahmad, Amani Ben Khlifa, Ahmed Photography, Laura Burdon-Manley for helping to get the word out.

I value the opinion of my readers and would love to hear from you, do you have any suggestions of how I can advocate more for alopecia sufferers, inspire other women and or become the face of alopecia?  Please leave a comment with your suggestions!

If you or someone you know has alopecia please join my facebook group: For Women Living with Alopecia.

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A High-Tea for Vegans in Qatar

I’ve been hearing a lot about something called High-Tea and I didn’t know much about it but I knew I wanted to try it out.  Through a group on Facebook, I’d heard that the Shangri-La Hotel here in Doha offers a vegan afternoon tea and without knowing any more than that I booked it.

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For 98 Riyals you and a friend can enjoy an assortment of coffee, teas and small bites such as: Falafel in pita bread, mushroom and pine nuts calzone, asparagus baked in filo pastry, berry crumble, banana and date almond bread, banana ice-cream and more.  It was a small amount of food but it was nice for a light, late lunch.  The eating area is comfortable and quiet and several waitresses are there to assist.  I was just happy, this vegan had an uncompromising and tasty lunch.

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